School Employees' Personal Data Stolen

December 20, 2007

Hundreds of current and former Greenville County School District employees had personal information stolen from computers accessing state insurance information, prompting an investigation by federal Homeland Security officials.

The district notified employees last week that the computers had been compromised and that employees' personal information was taken, including their names, home phone numbers and Social Security numbers.

Homeland Security said that school employees were among several governmental agencies across the state whose employees were hit by data thieves.

Local, state and federal law enforcement officers are investigating the case, school district employees said.

According to a release, the school district says it was informed about the security breach by state information security officials, who learned of it from the Department of Homeland Security, which monitors government computers for suspicious activity.

The security breach resulted from a malicious program in a computer used to process state insurance information, the district said. This malicious software was designed to evade security and steal data.

When the district benefits department computer was used to access employees' state insurance information, the malicious software program captured their personal information, the school district said.

The district said that after the security breach was detected by state and federal information security officials, affected school district employees were notified and given advice from Homeland Security officials about how to deal with any potential problems with identity theft.

Data theft is different from identity theft, in that for identity theft to occur a data thief must actually use the data that is stolen to commit fraud or other crimes.

The district said that there is no indication that any identity thefts have occurred, but the potential exists.

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